Government

GOP criticizes Hubbell's Power Fund record

Democrats charge Republican hypocrisy in new TV ad

Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, discusses Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell’s track record as former leader of the Iowa Power Fund from 2007 to 2011 during a Thursday news conference at the GOP headquarters in Des Moines. (Photo by Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)
Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, discusses Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell’s track record as former leader of the Iowa Power Fund from 2007 to 2011 during a Thursday news conference at the GOP headquarters in Des Moines. (Photo by Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)

DES MOINES — Iowa Republicans opened a new attack Thursday on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell by criticizing his past role as head of Iowa’s Power Fund, which had a spotty track record in financing projects aimed at helping the state become a national leader in renewable energy.

Hubbell’s camp responded by releasing a new TV ad designed to “debunk” the criticism by showing then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and other GOP leaders at the 2015 opening of a cellulosic plant in Story County built with the help of Power Fund money as an example of Iowa’s spirit on innovation.

Both sides accused the other of hypocrisy.

Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann summoned reporters to GOP headquarters at the launch of a “Hubbell Hypocrisy Tour” to cite examples of “a few boondoggles” that received Power Fund money but failed to produce expected results.

“We’ve got examples throughout here where Fred Hubble was praising a particular use of these taxpayer dollars in these funds and then turns around and, in some cases, they didn’t even come to fruition and then those dollars were forgiven and the only losers were the taxpayers,” Kaufmann said.

Coupled with Hubbell’s track record as Younkers chief executive, his failure to disclose detailed tax records and his privileged background, Kaufmann said the Power Fund legacy under Hubbell’s watch “is about attitude and arrogance and a lack of leadership.”

“The bottom line is this is hypocrisy all the way through. We’re getting a really good look of what a Gov. Fred Hubbell would be like,” the GOP chairman said. “I can’t even imagine what this state would look like after four years of his leadership.”

Kaufmann also criticized Hubbell for not recusing himself when the board considered the DuPont project since he owned stock in the company — something Hubbell said he noted in his 2010 personal financial disclosure.

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The Iowa Power Fund was created in 2007 under former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver as a four-year, $100 million state fund to invest in cutting-edge research and development by providing seed money to alternative energy ventures.

The Hubbell campaign cited a 2010 impact study indicating the Power Fund investments in 31 projects were generating more than $103 million annually in economic activity, creating more than 430 jobs with tax revenue and payroll benefits, and generating projects totaling $368 million in early years.

The program was negatively impacted when the 2008 recession hit, and state lawmakers diverted millions from the fund for other purposes. Former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad canceled the Power Fund and dissolved the state’s Office of Energy Independence after he defeated Culver in the 2010 election.

In its response to GOP criticism, the Hubbell campaign noted the DuPont contract for the Nevada ethanol cellulosic plant was finalized in February 2011 under the Branstad-Reynolds administration and has been celebrated by Reynolds on numerous occasions as a testament to the “company’s vision and the reality that our state’s economic strategy is working.”

“Once again, without a positive vision or record to run on, Gov. Reynolds is flailing to desperately attack Fred Hubbell, going so far as to step on her own record,” according to the statement issued by the Hubbell campaign.

“Ever the career politician ready to say anything to win an election, Reynolds is now flip-flopping on a project that was finalized on her watch and she praised as ‘a prime example of that spirit of innovation,’ ” the Hubbell campaign added.

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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